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"Panzer Division Marduk", published in 1999, is commonly regarded as the most brutal album of Morgan and his comrades. But the most brutal album does not necessarily contain the most brutal song. In my humble opinion, the opener of "Plague Angel" tramples the (glorious) songs of "Panzer Division Marduk" into the dust (and a lot of further songs shine with equally brute sections). A thunderstorm of steel and iron breaks loose. Blast beats, hellish leads and the furious voice melt into each other and the battle for the orphaned throne of Bohemia claims countless victims. Especially the lead vocals of Mortuus, who gave his debut on "Plague Angel", made me prick up my ears. At the same time, I was concerned about his physical health. This guy seemed to be at risk to collapse within the next minutes. He did not spare himself while straining his vocal chords extremely. Legion had been a great lead vocalist, but the fanaticism of Mortuus released new impulses. However, this ultra-massive beginning marks the most devastating song of the band and one of their best at the same time.
During the period 2000 - 2011, Marduk released five full-lengths, but only "Plague Angel" showed the excruciatingly cruel facet of the band. It was not based on a concept whose keywords were "mid-tempo", "variety" and, to a lesser extent, "experiment". Therefore, it distinguished itself from partially disappointing albums like "World Funeral" or "Rom 5:12". The album marked a temporary return to the violence and bloodthirstiness of their early days. Full speed ahead was the order of the day. But it goes without saying that Marduk were intelligent enough to offer different song configurations. They did not intend to release "Panzer Divison Marduk Part II".
Anyway, only two sinister intermezzos interrupted the martial scenario while trying to score with an atmospheric approach. Apart from these unusual pieces, "Perish in Flames" constituted the only regular song that did not bow down to the fascinating dogma of high velocity. Nevertheless, this tune also left its mark, not only because of its title which evoked pleasant associations. Just remember Dark Angel's eponymous closer of their masterpiece "Darkness Descends". However, more important was the fact that Marduk's mid-paced fire wave did not lack of intensity. Its less radical pattern did not result in a significant lack of massiveness. Nevertheless, such a track would have destroyed the conception of their mind-blowing album of 1999. Irrespective of these three numbers, the Swedish death squad left nothing else but scorched earth.
For example, "Warschau" sounded as if the entire Polish capital was erased by an air raid in a matter of minutes. Compared with this tune - or with further songs like "Life's Emblem" - a murderous amok run appeared as a walk in the park on a sunny afternoon. "Life's Emblem" reached almost the same level of intensity as the merciless opener. Only a short break in the middle of the song prevented another extra portion of militaristic destructiveness. By the way, the belligerent aura of the album was based on the combination of the relentlessly firing eruptions and the dense production. The sound was a little bit blurred, but each and every war in the last century was characterised by filth, mud, blood and cadavers. Thus, a clean production would have been counterproductive for this orgy of destruction. Of course, harsh critics may say that the album is the one-dimensional work of a narrow-minded horde. But I am not interested in their stupid desire for diversity. Quite the opposite - albeit a few tunes cannot fully convince, I enjoy the music of "Plague Angel" and its nightmarish artwork as well.
I had given up on Marduk for some time prior to this release. All the albums after Heaven Shall Burn…When We Are Gathered sucks, basically. Most of the albums are praised as landmarks but they didn’t stick in my mind (although Panzer Division is somehow enjoyable). Legion might be one Hell of a vocalist at some point in history, but his voice deteriorated dramatically, his attitude was more of a rock star (“We love you, Paris?” Come on!) and the music was far below average. Marduk tried to mask that by recording in Abyss studios, but to no avail. On World Funeral there was some fresh blood in the ranks and I could here Emil was hungry, but again the music was lame, the production was lamer and Legions’ voice… oh man… HORRID!!
So when I heard that Mortuus/Arioch of Funeral Mist & Triumphator was the new man on the mic and Devo returned to do bass this time I decided to give them just one last shot. I was surprised that Marduk decided to record in another studio this time. I was even more surprised by the rotten lay-out of the album. Finally, Marduk have broken free from the faceless, glossy crap that only appease the mindless masses. In my opinion Black Metal is rotten and ugly both in sound and sight. This was very promising. So I picked it up and gave it a listen.
Little was I prepared…
Only a few seconds of dramatic calm before the merciless onslaught of hateful insanity that ensued. Fuck me! Is this the same band that produced so many shit-albums? When The Hangman Of Prague opens, it grabs you by the balls like a bull shark and doesn’t let go. Morgan finally wrote an album with good songs and Emil could show the world what he was made off. Instead of his somewhat static predecessor he is really trying to wreck his drum kit with an unbelievable arsenal of quite nifty drum fills that are out of the ordinary. Mortuus/Arioch was already known for his superb voice and he delivers the goods again with feverish fanaticism and orthodox zeal. The man has a voice of a god.
Hangman ends abruptly and goes right into Throne of Rats. I didn’t realise that it where 2 separate songs until I bought the CD. The whole album is just full of in-your-face pummelling. The sound is quite direct, giving it a kind of Death metal-ish sound within the dramatic package of Black Metal.
The third track is slow but lethal nonetheless. What Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets lacks in speed, it makes up with nerve-wrecking slow. This song is really uneasy listening. It shows that hatred doesn’t always need speed to get the message across. Just like the militant ambient track Deathmarch. Both songs are sickeningly slow and brooding, heavy with pestilence and plague. The overall atmosphere on this album is, similar to the lyrical topics, somewhere between present day warfare (Warschau, Steel Inferno, Hangman Of Prague) and medieval religious zeal (Throne Of Rats, Life’s Emblem, Everything Bleeds).
This album is perfect, where it not for Perish In Flames: a lengthy song which is slow and .. well, boring. Not at all bad, but just not doing it for me. The atmosphere is there, but it is almost a shame that it’s featured on Plague Angel.
Closing track Blutrache disserves special attention. Rumbling tanks fire their deadly payload to unleash Armageddon, when a distant guitar wails a dramatic chord. Slowly swelling together with a simple bass sound it explodes when the drums appear. First only as a succession of kicks but then suddenly ignites into frenzy of apocalyptic proportions. Here Emil definitively steels the show alongside Mortuus. Almost impossible drum fills at lightning speed before slowing down into a trance inducing pace where Mortuus vomits forth his demonic prayers of war and death. Especially the repetition of the same text over and over again and again (with some slight variations for extra effect: “even our children shall fight to the end”) is extremely effective. Forget drugs, this will get you tripping to new levels of consciousness!
This album is a blast! Such ferocity and conviction! Marduk is back and very angry. Hard as Krupp steel they rip their way through the space-time continuum and leave the unsuspected world bleeding in its wake. Hell, this crazy juggernaut of an album crushes Panzer Division. The only flaw in my view is Perish In Flames but the rest of the album makes up for it.
After listening to ´World Funeral´in 2003 I was wondering if the fire was dying in Marduk. They had slowed down quite a bit and it wasn´t sounding like much of their work from the 90´s. Legion´s voice seems to have weathered badly and lost it´s impact from the glorious days of `Heaven Shall Burn...´ and `Nightwing´. Also they just seemed to be going through the motions for a 5 year period. Maybe the anger and inspiration had waned a bit since `Panzer Division Marduk´ in 1999. So it was clear that the band needed a change in the lineup to shake things up. Letting go of Legion was not easy since he was behind some of their more memorable work but he was losing a bit of strength in his voice and it showed in their two prior albums before `Plague Angel´.
In comes Mortuus formerly Arioch of the band `Triumphator´ and boy what a strong impact he made on this album. His voice is noticeably deeper and his voice is certainly stronger (but slower) than Legion´s where his voice was raspy and on the high end of the spectrum. You could say that he has a death metal voice but it fits Marduk very well since he applies a much needed aggressiveness in their sound. Gone also is long time bassist B.War and in comes former guitarist Devo at the bass playing position. Drummer Emil has been in the band since `World Funeral´ so he´s used to his position. All the chips are set and it was time to put them together.
In a way this album was ¨make or break¨ for them, they needed to prove to fans and most importantly themselves that they can still hit hard like they used to in the 90´s. The lineup did exactly what it was intended to do, sttrike fast, play with intensity and hate. It´s almost as if Marduk had started all over again with so much to prove and impress. If anything my interest is definitely back because they have found an inner youth and anger that had slowly declined for a while there. The first song `The Hangman Of Prague´ doesn´t waste time getting straight to the point. No intro here, just straight in your face fast black metal like Marduk does best. Then comes a classic in my book `Throne Of Rats´ with a great riff and excellent drumming by Emil but Mortuus showing that he can keep up with them and using his voice as an instrument. Things slwo down on songs like `Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets´, `Perish In Flames´ and `Deathmarch´ the latter being an instrumental ¨marching¨ track.
The other songs (Life´s Emblem, Steel Inferno, Blutrache, Warschau, Holy Blood, Holy Grail) are all fast, hard, intense tracks like the first two. In terms of speed and anger it´s similar to `Panzer Division Marduk´ but perhaps with tighter drumming and a more suited voice for the type of music they play nowadays. So in the end Marduk with the new lineup have attainted their goal and succeeded with flying colors. They are no longer a joke and shadows of their former selves but now a band to be feared, respected and thoroughly enjoyed. Welcome back guys, it´s been a while since you guys have played like this. Now just find a way to tour America soon.
Marduk prefers to practice their black arts at an insanely blazing tempo, creating a wall of discordant musical decomposition with the goal of bludgeoning listeners into submission. Very few black metal bands can maintain the voracious destructive pace that this band executes with little effort. Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson plays some of the mostly intensely pure chaotic riffs imaginable, fretting up and down the neck with tremendous speed as the band blast through ‘Throne Of Rats’ with an unstoppable blackened fury.
The despair filled dirge ‘Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets’ slowly and sickly grinds it’s way into your brain with a force of pure evil. The start-stop nature of this piece gives it an even more sinister nature. A sick scream begins ‘Steel Inferno’ a track set to devastate the dark warriors that follow Marduk at the summer festivals. Hyper speed blasts and diabolic summonings from beyond the gates of Hell are the theme here, preparing the listener for the next battle in the black musical war, ‘Perish In Flames’, perhaps the best of the more doom laden invocations which grace this record.
European fans got a jump on picking up this soul crushing record, which should make this a big import in the month’s preceding its US release as this is yet another brilliantly evil offering from this legendary act that helped to pioneer the genre. Marduk’s sense of sheer heaviness is quite adept and here on ‘Plague Angel’ they prove why they are one of the most respected acts in black metal today.
Wow! This time Marduk has exceeded them self with this inferno of an album. It's not only the most evil to date; it's also among the best!
If you thought Panzer Division Marduk was fast, then you'll be absolutely devastated by the blasphemously speed of Plague Angel. I thought World Funeral was a great album, so naturally my expectations for Plague Angel were higher than normal. The mix of fast drums and ditto guitars with some of the most intense riffs ever in the band's history (just listen to Throne of Rats), makes the entire experience fantastic and grim (in a good sentence). There has been room to more slow and heavy tracks as Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets which also makes Plague Angel varied.
Mortuus does not seem to have that much power in his voice as the previous singer, Legion, though I can't imagine a voice more dark, evil and authoritative. The lyrics are evil and atmospheric as Hell (!) - Just listen to the dark and almost majestically lyrics to The Hangman of Prague and the executing Steel Inferno, great; simply great!
Marduk has been to the deepest corner of Hell to release Plague Angel, and with no doubt this album is a 'must have'; the sound is splendours, the lyrics evil and dark, and the cover art grotesque and extremely unpleasant. To get the ultimate experience: Turn down the light, light up a few candles, print out the lyrics, put Plague Angel on the cd-player, and turn up the sound! WELCOME TO HELL!
Marduk is a band with a notorious reputation for making the most aggresively fast black metal out there. They are one of the few respectable BM bands that DONT spend their career making albums with songs about the north, the frost or the fucking moon.
Marduk are not your typical Black metal band. Marduk mean business when it comes to playing their style of aggresive fast black metal.
With "Plague angel", The Marduk Panzer death ride resumes , minus vocalist "Legion" who has been replaced by Mortuus(Ex- Funeral Mist).
The production is decent enough for me. Considering I listen to the most obscure of grindcore bands with the poorest production one can imagine, I really am not that fussy about production of an album as long as the band make up for it in musicmanship.
Soundwise...The guitar tone is razor sharp and dominate in the mix. Drums are slightly low in the mix, sounding muffled but still gets the job done in the end. The bass is heard clearly and adds that extra depth to the music. And the vocals?Well Id like to use an entire paragraph to describe the vocals...
Shredding through Mortuus' throat, his screams are raspy, in a robust way ,not some weak ass sewer pipe cackles and croaks you hear on most "TR00 GR1M KVLT" wankery. Mortuus has delivered the best BM vocals Ive heard in a long time. His vocals are the definite highlight of "plague angel". A testimony to this would be the absolutely insane 12 second scream at around 1:07 on the song "Warschau". I was so impressed with his vocals on this album , that Im now looking out for his works in Funeral Mist.
Mortuus is the perfect replacement for Legion, a vocalist who I think did a great job with Marduk.
Onto the album now.
The album begins with a dark haunting melody, like the beginning of a classic horror movie and within a few seconds, even before the atmosphere sets in, youll find yourself in the middle of a blazing warzone.
Musicwise, This is the sonic equivalent of World War 3...So utterly devastating, I simply cannot find the right words to describe the carnage that is contained on this small plastic disc thats spinning away on my cd drive as I write this review. Most of tracks on the album are blitzkriegs of hyperfast riffs and blast beats that shred your ears to little ribbons over and over again. As a small example : Listen to "Blutrache" at 2:10 and you will understand what Im saying.
But this isnt like "Panzer Division Marduk" because there are variations in the album from time to time. For example : "Deathmarch", is an atmospheric track composed of war trumpets and drums, haunting choir vocals and evil chanting that really sets the mood for war. Another track to watch out for is "Seven Angels, Seven trumpets" - A slow but heavy number with samples of a church choir thrown in for extra atmosphere.
In the end, all I can say is there isnt one weak spot on the album. The songs are monolithic in terms of speed, atmosphere and aggression. With "Plague angel", Marduk redefine black metal and have tightened their grip on the black metal sceptre.
My 3 favourite tracks are :
The Hangman of Prague, Blutrache, Warschau.
Some things just never change. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, water is wet, the sky is blue, and Marduk just keep pumping out album after album of fast, blast-ridden black metal. Of course, there are plenty of detractors who’ll insist they’re not black metal at all, but for intents and purposes the label fits well enough. Once again we find them with a revitalized lineup: Legion is out, replaced by Funeral Mist/Triumphator vocalist Arioch, now going by the name Mortuus. Also out is long-time bassist B.War, replaced by former guitarist Devo Anderson, returning to the band after a 10-year absence.. Not that Plague Angel represents a return to the blackened Swedish death metal of old, this is the same violent norsecore they’ve been plying since Opus Nocturne. There’s few surprises to be found, although “Deathmarch” is somewhat different – essentially a literal interpretation of it’s title, being an ominous atmospheric track driven by militaristic marching beats.
Elsewhere, it’s what you’d expect: constant blasting interspersed with some slower sections – Panzer Division this is not – and sharp, nasty riffs galore. Mortuus blows Legion’s weak barking out of the water with a tour-de-force performance of sick, throat-shredding shrieks and growls, while his lyrics are the same sick, twisted mania he’s made his trademark. The “Religious” style also appears here, perverting and twisting Christianity’s doctrines rather than simply screaming “Fuck Jesus!” - much more interesting in my view. Unfortunately the layout of the booklet makes it difficult to decipher everything, since the text is often squashed and distorted and printed in an unusual font. It’s not completely illegible, but it does require a fair bit of concentration to read.
As with every Marduk album, this isn’t for everyone. Fans will love it, detractors will hate it, and casual listeners will probably find it far more interesting than their last few efforts. It’s neither as violent as Panzer Division or as gloomy as La Grande Danse Macabre, instead focusing more on the style they explored on Nightwing. I must repeat how immeasurably better the vocals are this time around – Legion was definitely the weak link of the band’s sound since he joined, and his successor makes him sound even more pathetic. Of course, the production here is excellent, much more organic than the sterility of Abyss but retaining absolutely clarity and punch. Marduk is one band who’s style always suited a crystal-clear mix, and here they’ve gotten what’s probably their best production job ever. Welcome back.
Originally written for http://www.diabolicalconquest.com
I didn't like the last Marduk album I heard. It was World Funeral, and it sucked. Annoying riffs, annoying vocals, annoying lyrics, etc. There was exactly one good song on the album. However, when this came out my interest was piqued, especially when I heard they'd dumped that fat fuck Legion. I purchased it not too long ago, and you know what? It's actually pretty good…
…as long as you don't go in expecting black metal. There's almost no riffing that could be described as BM (though some of it's a reasonable enough facsimile), both the riffs and the hyper-fast blasting drums are more reminiscent of death metal. A bit more trebly, but still rather death-ish. It's all played very well- fast, precise, and totally furious. Mortuus' vocals are MILES better than Legion's shitty yawning-goblin rasps. The production actually IS more raw than World Funeral (though it's still very clear), and the music sounds much better for it.
There's a few annoying moments on here, namely the annoying and forgettable Perish In Flames and the laughable faux-ambient interlude Deathmarch. But overall this is a very solid offering, and probably the best Norsecore you'll hear this year. Check it out if you've got an open mind and some money/HD space to burn.
Yes, the first release from Marduk since "Those Of The Unlight" which caught my attention again, blasting it already a couple of times through my HiFi. Well, why is the question, and I try to explain with just a few sentences.
Liking the works of Triumphator (especially their first 7" with their crazy guitar solos and the nicely fitting Black Metal vocals), I say that "Plague Angel" sounds now more like a continuation of this Linköping based band, instead of Marduk's last and average LP "World Funeral". Damn, Arioch has a perfect voice for Black Metal. A lot better than Legion's monotonic stuff. Also the production turned much rawer. I have read in an other review, it turned worser. Maybe that too. But this "worser" production fits totally. No polished Abyss Studio production with the same Hi-Hat sound and the same guitar sound you find on so many releases. And yeah, the drums: Emil delievers talented fast drumworks, as he already showed with Nominon, with a lot of variation.
I have listened not often to any of the last Marduk LPs (except for Panzerdivision), but this is a earcatcher. Best song is clearly the last one "Blutrache". Epic slow Black Metal, great melodies, great screamy vocals with a deathy style only to be found on the Triumphator releases, with harsh and sharp guitars. Welcome back guys, I want to say from my musical taste. And an extra point for the production.
Seeing everyone bash this album, I had to come on and write a positive review for the new Marduk cd, who which remain one of the best black metal acts around today. Whats differant about this new Marduk release is that its a very fresh change for Marduk who in my opinion needed a lineup change badly. World Funeral was a decent effort, but wasnt up to par like past releases. Some of the songs were to me, way too light and not as heavy as Nightwing, Panzer, or even the underated La Grande Dance material. This album takes a step back into what Marduk have always been known for, but also stays fresh and innovative. Im sure you all know that now in the vocal ranks is the legendary Arioch (Mortuus), which is a way better singer, who is also an excellent performer from his past projects (Triumphator, Funeral Mist). He also adds his flavour of style which greatly enhances Marduk's overall appearance. Morgan now has fresh blood in the band to fuel the creativity. Some of Marduk's best songs are on this album, my personal favorite being Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets, where Mortuus' vocals are some of the best his done since Funeral Mist's Salvation, and Morgan's pounding guitar riffing is some of his best. New, but settling in drummer, Emil also shows the world his drumming fits in with Marduk's new sound. But one thing I have to mention is that Marduk finally moved to a new studio to record the new album. Which deserves praise, as Im tired of other bands using the same studio over and over again. Abyss is an excellent studio, but ive noticed alot of bands that record there, turn out sounding all the same.
All in all Marduk's Plague Angel is one of 2004's best releases and cannot be missed if your a die-hard marduk fan. Watch for them on tour! Lets hope they can finally get into the US.
Marduk is band that only has one original member left in the line up, Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson, and he hasn’t even been in the band the entire time. Usually when a band’s line up changes drastically over the years, their sound changes and suffers. Marduk is no exception, nothing they have done since Heaven Shall Burn….When We Have Gathered has been very good. They changed from their “technical” flowing black metal style with screeching vocals to choppy black metal with uninspired sloppy vocals. That is to say they went from something original and good to something “mainstream”, typical, and bad. Plague Angel further cements Marduk’s progression towards mainstream shit and has buried the band’s credibility and chance of redemption, kind of how we all knew Metallica was gone when they released their Load album.
Plague angel suffers from lack of direction, inspiration, and originality. From start to finish every song lacks direction and sounds just like the previous except for Deathmarch, a useless track trying to be atmospheric and failing, and Perish In Flames, which has a slow and somewhat good (although trite) intro and flow to it. Perhaps the only song on the album that is a bit different from the rest of the album. Track one, The Hangman Of Prague, sounds identical to track eleven, Blutrache. Every song in between is identical. They are all filled with boring repetitive drumming and blast beats, boring guitar riffs that have little variation, and a bad clone of Legions vocals. On Throne Of Rats the band will play a repetitive and boring riff over and over in an attempt to create a destructive and apocalyptic atmosphere. They of course fail. Everyone song on the album has a moment similar to this, and they all fail.
Plague Angel, when broken down, is Marduk trying to copy their Panzer Division Marduk album by making it heavier with more blast beats and brutal guitars, and combining It with the sound of one of their best albums, Opus Nocturne. If they did this and tried to make it a bit more creative or original, and give each song its own personality, Plague Angel may be Marduk’s best album in ten years. Sadly though, Plague Angel fails to be anything more than incoherent blast beats played over boring and repetitive black metal with some horrible vocals. I suggest checking out Opus Nocture and Those Of The Unlight before Plague Angel, to see what Marduk once was…good. This album has two good traits, its fast and heavy, but that is no where near enough to save it. I would give it between a zero and ten, but about once per song there is a decent riff which allowed me to survive suffering through this album.
This is one hell of an album, ranging from grinding to thrashing to even (brace yourselves) melodic.
The production is clear, but not overdone. The guitar tone is superb and clear, but still raw enough to convey their "destroy everything" statement. The drums do not have any annoying clickity clack or and over-mic'd bass drum. To top it all off, the bass is actually audible, its presence adds quite a bit to the overall sound of the album IMO.
The main difference I hear in this release, as compared to say, Heaven Shall Burn...When We Are Gathered, is that this album has breathing room. The band didn't just try and play at 666mph, but instead WROTE MUSIC! Look at "Perish in Flames" and "Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets" these songs are lacking almost everything that makes black metal "KVLT GRIM NECRO AND TR0000" but they are still powerful, the way the guitars interlock with the drum beats and vocal patterns is very reminiscient of Immortal's "Sons of Northern Darkness".
After saying that, there is one thing to remember...this is still Marduk. Even though there is room to breathe, that doesn't mean these Swede's don't try to eat your face. As soon as "Perish In Flames" ends, "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" comes at you like the apocalypse. Chock full of blast-beats and those trademark subzero riffs, this is some aggresive shit.
So to summarize, this album is NOT the same old "norsecore" that had blighted Marduk's albums. The songs present on Plague Angel show what all this band is capable of, their harmony and musical sense is captured just as well as their speed and intensity. Arioch fills Legion's shoes pretty damn well too.